Where did that foreign body come from? ©iStockphoto.com/Steve Debenport
In the food and beverage industry, foreign body investigations need not be nasty affairs.
arlier this year, Mars had a foreign
body incident that caused the company to
Large-scale recalls like this are not good for
stream. Lastly, fragments of bones, pits or shells
any company’s bottom line or brand image, but in
that are removed during processing can end up
smaller companies the loss of direct revenue, the
hidden in the final products.
cost of crisis management, the damage to brand
Also, the very processing of the food involves
reputation and communications costs are enough
a large number of mechanical devices — there are
to force them into receivership.
knives, rollers, conveyors, gears and a plethora of
voluntarily recall a selection of Snickers, Mars,
You would only instigate this scale of recall if,
other bibs and bobs required in production. And
Milky Way and Celebrations chocolates across
like Mars, you were satisfied that the problem was
one thing all mechanical devices have in common is
55 countries. This was initiated after just one
genuine, originated in your plant and posed a risk
that they eventually wear out and have the potential
consumer in Germany reported finding a piece of
to consumer safety, wouldn’t you?
to be the source of a foreign body incident.
red plastic in a Snickers bar. After Mars established that the plastic piece came from a protective cover
In truth, you can only answer yes to this question if you are absolutely sure of your facts.
HACCP and GMP plans are designed to minimise the risks of contamination incidents, but control of materials in production environments
used in the manufacturing process at its Veghel plant in The Netherlands, the company made
‘Zero tolerance’ is now the norm
still presents a major challenge. Consideration
the precautionary decision to recall all of the ‘at
Despite the industry’s best efforts, it is probably
needs to be given to the equipment design and
risk’ product manufactured in the plant. Industry
inevitable that foreign particles and matter will
certification and design standards which exist to
pundits are estimating that the recall will have a
periodically be found in food products.
promote hygienic performance (eg, the standards
significant financial cost attached, certainly running
Most raw foods and ingredients originate in
and protocols from EHEDG6, 3-A7 and NSF
into tens of millions of dollars. The cost comes
a natural environment — a farm, an orchard, a
International8). Adoption of these will mean that
directly from the recall process, the loss of writing
market garden… As the food is picked or harvested,
your equipment has been designed and constructed
off products and from lost sales in the short and
foreign objects such as stones or glass can end up
to reduce the potential for product contamination
medium term, compounded because the brand
comingled and transported into the processing
damage is occurring in the chocolate boom time
plant. Additionally, objects found in manufacturing
Added to this, online systems including metal
in the lead-up to Easter.
facilities can also find their way into the processing
detectors and X-ray inspection can detect and then
38 | LAB+LIFE SCIENTIST - April 2016
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